With the addition of many sidewalks in town, many area residents over the past few weeks have been targeted for an education campaign to make people aware of a current city code regarding sidewalk policies.

With the addition of many sidewalks in town, many area residents over the past few weeks have been targeted for an education campaign to make people aware of a current city code regarding sidewalk policies.

Though most vehicles are typically parked in driveways, some don't realize that a vehicle cannot obstruct the public sidewalk where that driveway crosses over it.

The City of Shawnee, with the help of the Avedis Foundation, has been investing in sidewalks all over town the past few years, but in order to ensure those walkways are used as intended for residents, Blue Zones Project volunteers are helping the Shawnee Police Department (SPD) educate the community about codes related to them.

For two weeks, postcards were a first step in alerting residents to the city code, later came two weeks of warnings — now fines will be issued to those out of compliance.

During Monday's commission meeting Blue Zones Project Community Program Manager Rachael Melot offered a report on how the effort was going. She said while 25 windshield warnings were given in the first phase of the campaign, about half of that in warning citations were issued during the second phase.

“We received about 30 emails and Facebook messages and comments from residents inquiring about the ordinance,” she said.

Melot said a Facebook live video the group created to educate residents about what they were doing had received almost 4,000 views as of last week.

At this juncture, Shawnee police officers are in the citation phase.

The fine for parking across a city sidewalk is $130.

“This was a really great notification campaign,” Melot said. “Police report they did not issue any citations (last week), so I think the campaign was effective.”

The sidewalk code has been there since 2002, but with increasing focus on healthier movement through town some of those codes are about to receive new zeal for enforcement.

In an effort to work together as neighbors, more than a dozen volunteers began to spread the word that enforcement was coming.

Melot said, “We want to protect the sidewalks and make them as user-friendly as possible.”

The effort was considered an education piece, she said.

Melot said the goal was to educate area residents so neighbors might be spared those hefty fines.

City Code already agrees with concerted efforts to make Shawnee more walkable, so keeping sidewalks unobstructed is a matter of resident cooperation, she said.

“We've just been notifying residents that this ordinance exists, and laying the groundwork for the city to cite those who break this ordinance or law.”

SPD Major Rod Taylor said the hope was for a slow indoctrination and educational period before citations are issued.

“Some of these people have been there for years and years, and have never had a sidewalk,” he said. “Now all of a sudden we're asking them to do something that they've never had to do there before.”

He said everyone understands that, and it will be a slow process to get all on board.

“We hope to make it as painless as possible,” he said. “I think if you give people a long enough period to get used to the idea, it will make it a lot easier.”

Volunteers have been placing postcards on windshields in two areas with the highest number of repeated complaints — along Broadway (between MacArthur and Highland) and East Wallace (between Kickapoo and Pennsylvania).

“At some point our city found that this was so important to protect the right-of-way for pedestrians that there is a significant fine,” Melot said. “Now we're in a place where our community cares about it enough that we want it enforced.”

For more information, call the SPD at (405) 273-2121.